LONDON (Reuters) - London’s fire brigade will only be responding to serious incidents on Saturday as firefighters prepare to hold an eight-hour strike, officials said.
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said its members would stage the walkout from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in a dispute over changes to shift patterns.
London Fire Brigade said it would be responding to 999 calls during the stoppage but admitted that it would not be possible to send a fire engine to less urgent and non-life threatening incidents, such as rubbish fires, flooding and gas leaks.
“The contingency arrangements allow the Brigade to place up to 27 fire appliances at strategic locations across the Brigade area and is a significant improvement on the green goddesses used during the last strike,” said Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson.
“The arrangements are not intended to replicate or replace what the Brigade does but gives, so far as is reasonably practicable, an acceptable level of contingency cover if the FBU strike.”
Firefighters, who voted 79 percent in favour of taking strike action, have already been taking action short of a strike including a ban on overtime and on other goodwill gestures.
The FBU said the action had been provoked by the decision to send letters of dismissal to all 5,600 firefighters and re-employ them on new contracts with the changed rotas.
“If they had not started that process, we would not be going on strike. If the dismissals are lifted now, the strike will be called off straight away,” said FBU general secretary Matt Wrack.
“It is a terrible step to have to take. But London’s firefighters feel it is the only step they can now take.”
A second walkout is planned for November 1.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison